BY ALBERT ROMAN
John Bowne defeated Queens High School of Teaching 66-63 to capture the Public School Athletic League Borough Championship on Feb 18.
Sophomore Alejandro Vasquez led the Wildcats with 36 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, while senior Christian Hinckson added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The matchup between two of Queens’ finest began with a number of turnovers, blocks and misses. With 5:58 remaining in the first period, the Tigers’ senior Christophe Kelly broke the scoreless tie with a layup. He proceeded to score the team’s first seven points.
Vasquez’s first bucket brought the Queens College crowd to their feet as he dribbled past multiple defenders and scored in traffic. He proceeded to nail a three pointer to tie the game at nine. John Bowne used a 6-2 run to conclude the quarter with a lead, 15-13.
After Vasquez began the second quarter with a layup, senior Kion Hill scored four consecutive points for QHST to tie the game at 17 with 6:51 remaining. Both teams went into a scoring drought for 2:09 before junior Dwight Reed gave the Tigers the lead with a jumper. The team used a three pointer by Hill, a fast-break layup and pair of free throws from Kelly to build a one-point lead heading into halftime, 28-27.
QHST continued to expand their lead with a 7-3 run to open the third. The Wildcats now trailed 33-27. Consecutive layups by Vasquez and Hinckson began to narrow the deficit. As the team continued to pull closer, an offensive rebound and put-back by Vasquez gave John Bowne a 38-37 lead with 2:50 remaining in the third period.
A shot fake by Hinckson followed by a pass to sophomore Kareem Reid, who proceeded to dunk the ball and draw a foul, put an exclamation mark on a 14-4 run by the Wildcats.
QHST cut the lead to three before fouling John Bowne with .4 remaining in the quarter. Junior Richard Selembo grabbed an offensive rebound and quickly scored the basket to end the quarter and add to the lead, 48-43.
Six consecutive points in the fourth by Vasquez ballooned the lead to 11. The Tigers had one more run left. The team answered with four free throws and three layups. The 10-0 run by QHST slashed the Wildcats’ lead to just one with 1:14 remaining in the game and forced coach John Tsapelas to call a timeout.
Following the timeout, Hinckson drew a foul and headed to the free throw line after having missed his three previous free throws. He remained cool under pressure as he hit one of two to push the lead to two.
After a QHST miss, Hickson drew another foul. This time, he sank both free throws to build a 64-60 lead for the Wildcats with .47 seconds remaining in the game.
Vasquez added two more free throws to secure a 66-60 lead. A last second three pointer for the Tigers pulled them within three points, but John Bowne dribbled out the remaining time to capture the title.
The Wildcats entered the tournament as the number three seed and were able to defeat the number one seeded Tigers for the second consecutive game in the past 11 days.
Kelly led QHST with 15 points, while seniors William Ellis and Jamie Nurse contributed 11 points each. The team will enter the A Division “AA” Playoff Bracket as the fourth seed.
The victory concludes an impressive 12-4 season for the Wildcats. In the last four seasons, the team has a combined 55-7. They will enter as the third seed.